The Oldest Rowing Race in the World

Doggett's Coat and Badge

Race for Doggett's Coat and Badge is the name of the oldest rowing race in the world. It's a single sculls race on the Thames from London Bridge to Chelsea, which has been held in London since 1715.
Started as a Wager
The competitors are Thames Watermen. They compete to earn a coveted red Waterman's coat and badge. The race is  named after Thomas Doggett, an Irish actor who offered a wager of a coat and badge to the fastest Waterman between the Swan Inn at London Bridge and another Swan Inn at Chelsea, over four miles in distance. The badge features a horse representing the House of Hanover — a symbol to honour George I of Great Britain and Ireland acceding the throne in 1714. And it's a big old badge, as you can see in the top photo of the 2015 winner of the race Louis Pettipher.

The race takes place on gthe 25th of July this year. Good luck to all competitors.

Fishmongers' Company

Thomas left instructions in his will for the race to continue. And so it has; and long may it so. The trusteeship of the race was placed with the Worshipful Company of Fishmongers after Thomas' death in 1721. The Fishmongers' Company is a Livery Company and Guild of the City of London, which received its first Royal Charter in 1272.

The Fishmongers' Company provides a history of the race here.

The Fishmongers' Company has its headquarters, Fishmongers' Hall, next to London Bridge on the bank of the Thames. That's the Banqueting Hall below. The hall has the sort of traditional, storied surroundings you and I thrive in. Defiantly unchanging , almost counter-culturally, in this time of bewilderingly liquid modernity. God save the hall. We need anchors.

The Queen's Watermen

A retinue of Queen's Watermen — 24 in number — are drawn from the Thames Watermen. The Queen's Watermen are involved in ceremonial duties both onshore and offshore.

Under the direction of the Queen's Bargemaster, the Watermen are also involved in the State Opening of Parliament, travelling as boxmen for the procession of the Royal Regalia — the Imperial State Crown, the Sword of State and the Cap of Maintenance. The symbols of the monarch's sovereignty are transported in their own carriage to the Houses of Parliament — ahead of the Queen — where the Bargemaster hands over the State Crown.

You don't see the Queen's Bargemaster in the video below from good chums British Pathé, but it reminds us of the spectacle of the State Opening of Parliament. It's vitally important for MPs in particular to understand the historical weight of their undertaking, which the ceremony helps to convey. We don't want TV entertainers. We want serious-minded servants of the state.

Watch Tailor — Harold Pinchbeck

It would be a great shame for the Doggett's Coat and Badge race to disappear, but the colour and variety of our traditions need custodians and advocates if they are not to succumb to cultural homogenization ('coca-colonization'). We can all do our bit.

The watch tailors Harold Pinchbeck certainly do their bit. Did you spot the watch worn by Louis Pettipher? It's a Lambeth Reach from Harold Pinchbeck that commemorates Doggett's race.

Harold Pinchbeck are sponsors of the race.

The Pinchbeck name has been associated with English watchmaking for 300 years. Harold was a latter Pinchbeck (1892-1957). His grandson Paul is the current director.

Harold Pinchbeck watches are based in the beautiful city of Lincoln, England. Pinchbeck watches are made in small numbers and available only directly. They make ready-to-wear and bespoke watches in England from British (where available) and Swiss components. The movements are guaranteed for a lifetime.

The Lambeth Reach has a stainless steel case and 25 jewel Swiss-made automatic movement. A leather strap and watch wallet are made by old friends Tanner Bates. The face has a traditional dial and hands, with boating motifs associated with the Doggett's race.

The back has an engraving of the number of the watch and race motto The Prize of the Doggett: The Glory of the River. 


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